In this exclusive blog post, we share tips from our panel of wedding experts on staying safe and making sure you don’t fall into a trap set by one of these wedding scammers.
Your wedding day is the most important day of your life, but for some in 2016 its been a day of horror tainted by reckless idiots.
Each year since we started back in 2010 we’ve received a number of calls, normally on Saturdays, from people who have been let down last minute by their photo booth supplier and wondering if we can help.
Alarmingly this year the number of those calls we receive has increased, but we’ve also noticed an increase in horror stories in the news, and from our fellow suppliers.
As a responsible wedding supplier we’ve put our heads together with some of the UKs top wedding experts to produce this guide to making sure you don’t get caught out.
We hope you find it useful, and we’d love to know your thoughts on this too…
Check 1: How Established Are They
How established is the business you are buying from? 50% of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years, so although we are not telling you to avoid using brand new businesses – you should be careful about any business that is new.
Often new suppliers are ‘cheaper’ at face value, but costs often amount when you end up paying twice for something.
The mistake here is that most newer businesses don’t truly understand their operating costs, such as taxes, VAT, and compete on price instead of focusing on providing quality.
Its not hard to check how long a company has been trading these days, as records are easily found showing when a website was registered or a Facebook page created.
Giggle Booth is one of the UKs longest established wedding photo booth companies, and our business model has been vetted by experts from banks such as Lloyds and HSBC to approve our franchise business model.
Check 2: How Real Are They
Although its a more obvious check, how real are the people you are dealing with?
Do they display an address? Is it a business address or a home address?
Do they have a landline number, or just a mobile? Landlines are harder to acquire, whereas mobiles can be bought and disposed of easily.
Do they have a proper website or just a Facebook page?
How much do you know about the people running the business or working in it?
Giggle Booth has a number of business premises across the UK, and as a limited company have a complete address verification in place, alongside public details of our directors and shareholders.
Check 3: References & Reviews
Has the company got a number of reviews? Do check that if these are on Facebook they are true and not simply reviews left by the owners friends or family.
Although in the UK it is illegal to leave false reviews, this is not always a strong enough deterrent for those who have such flagrant disregard for rules.
Check trusted review sites which monitor for genuine reviews, such as Reviews.co.uk, Review Centre & Trust Pilot.
Often raving fans of these businesses can be found on online forums, websites etc – another way of vetting a potential supplier and checking if they are genuine.
A businesses credit rating can often easily be found online too which can be very telling of the health of the business you are dealing with.
You can read Giggle Booths reviews online here.
Check 4: Wedding Venues & Other Suppliers
Speaking to your wedding venue and other suppliers, you’ll often be able to find out if a supplier has actually done any work. Venues and other suppliers are also usually the first to know who you shouldn’t work with, as well as the suppliers you should be looking to work with on your special day.
Giggle Booth is recommended by a number of local and national venues and suppliers, you’ll also find us on the approved supplier list at a number of top venues across the country.
Check 5: Where They Advertise
Its now easier than ever to advertise and promote a wedding business. Scammers aren’t usually prepared to spend much money enticing their victims so will usually solely rely on spamming Facebook groups, and other ‘free’ avenues.
They’ll be the type of people who only post to advertise their services without ever offering any advice or value.
They also won’t easily be found online in wedding directories, magazines, and exhibitions – see where else they are advertised. If they are spending money on promoting their service they are most likely trying to build a business, and more likely to be trustworthy.
Giggle Booth are one of the only wedding photo booth services to be found in high profile publications such as Wedding Ideas Magazine, as well as all the major online directories and at many local and national wedding exhibitions.
Check 6: Payment Methods
What payment methods does this supplier take? Is it only bank transfer, or cash? Or do they take credit/debit cards?
Although many suppliers will prefer bank transfer/cash payments to avoid fees, these payment methods leave little protection for you. You should always (where possible) opt to pay by card, or PayPal – which give you the best protection.
However, you will still be required to have undertaken basic checks on your chosen supplier, and using these methods does not guarantee protection.
You should pay particular attention to a supplier wanting you to pay in full for a service by cash or bank transfer. In these instances always insist on a full supply contract and receipt upon payment, but where possible try and pay by card or PayPal.
If you are using PayPal, always use the pay for products/services option rather than pay friends/family. If you use the ‘pay friends/family’ option this will not give you any buyer protection.
Giggle Booth is the only wedding photo booth supplier able to take Direct Debit payments to help you spread the cost, as well as accepting credit/debit card payments and PayPal.
Check 7: Photos
Is the supplier using stock photos or photos you’ve seen from other suppliers? Its very easy to get hold of these photos and they often fool couples.
Ask your suppliers for photos, or even videos of past work. If you are hiring equipment, ask for photos of that equipment.
These should be easily provided by genuine providers of services that involve photography/videography, such as photographers, videographers and photo booth hire companies.
We were surprised recently by a photo booth company who only had stock photos available on their website.
At Giggle Booth we are more than happy to supply samples of our work, sample photos, pictures of the equipment we operate, products we provide and you are even welcome to visit our head office to see our equipment in action.
Check 8: Contracts & Receipts
Make sure you are provided with a full contract and confirmation when you book and pay for anything.
You should make sure each and every payment you make is receipted.
We would suggest backing up these contracts and receipts by taking copies and keeping them in a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, or having a family member keep a copy, to avoid any issues should the original disappear.
Read your responsibilities as a client and ensure you are happy with them, and make sure the suppliers responsibilities are also detailed fully as you would understand the service to be delivered.
If you have any questions – ask the supplier.
Contracts should clearly the state the contracting parties, for example your full name, address as well as the suppliers full name and address.
If the supplier is not a limited company, the owner or partners of the company should be stated on the contract.
All Giggle Booth customers receive receipts and invoices for all payments, and a full booking contract and booking confirmation when they book.
Check 9: Insurances & Safety Checks
All wedding suppliers require insurance. Whether they are providing products, services, or both – they will require insurance.
Ask for copies of current certificates.
If they are bringing any electrical equipment on site they are also required to provide proof of portable appliance testing (PAT). Most venues will not allow electrical equipment on site without this, so always make sure your supplier has this if they are providing electrical equipment for your wedding.
If the supplier is providing any food or drink products, make sure they are registered with the local authority and search online for their latest food hygiene rating.
All Giggle Booth branches carry public liability insurance and equipment is tested annually for PAT. Copies are supplied as standard.
Check 10: Gut Feel
The final check is the basic human one we all have. If it feels to good to be true – it probably is. If something doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t.
Don’t take risks with the most important day of your life, the wedding industry is full of trustworthy and reliable suppliers, most will cost more than the scammers, but actually providing wedding products and services and running a business properly costs money.
Always remember you get what you pay for, and choosing ‘cheapest’ for your wedding could come back to bite you.
Most importantly choose suppliers you like, and trust.
A bonus check is making sure your supplier is part of an association like the British Wedding Industry Association, UKAWP, or WVSA.
Giggle Booth are full members of the British Wedding Industry Association.
We’d love to know if you’ve found this article useful – and if there any other tips you have to share? Just comment below; or on our Facebook page.